Magazine article American Banker

Twitter vs. Web for Crisis Notice

Magazine article American Banker

Twitter vs. Web for Crisis Notice

Article excerpt

Byline: Jeremy Quittner

Banks are still juggling how best to use social media to communicate to customers - especially when other systems go down.

At around 7 a.m. Friday, Bank of America Corp. experienced a partial outage of its online banking service. The Charlotte, N.C., bank used Twitter to get the word out, but it did not announce the outage on its home page. Impacted consumers simply got an error message.

"It is helpful if the bank sees [social media] as a part of their other communication channels," which should also include branches, call centers, the Web and mobile, said Stessa Cohen, research director for banking industry advisory services at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn.

"It is part of a holistic plan to deal with operational risk events," she said.

Over Twitter, B of A broadcast this message: "Online Banking Outage: Bank of America is working to restore capability as quickly as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience."

It also replied to individual Twitter users with a similar explanation. Though it reaches more than 7,000 Twitter followers worldwide, B of A spokeswoman Tara Burke said the bank opted not to put a message on the Web because the outage did not affect all customers. "Every situation is different and we determine on [a] case-by-case basis," Burke said. She said B of A also informed call centers about the outage.

Burke said the outage was likely the result of routine system changes the bank performed the night before and was not a sign of a security breach or a malware infection.

Cohen said the problem with making the announcement on the Twitter page was that it reached a smaller number of customers than the number affected - but Twitter was still a good start. …

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